As many automotive companies scramble to shape the future of mobility, self-driving cars have been one of the most talked-about topics in the tech scene in recent years. Many believe that autonomous vehicles could help solve many of the problems related to our current transportation systems in cities, from improving road safety to reducing congestion and emissions.
However, only time will tell if self-driving vehicles will actually change our cities for the better. With that said, the technology involved in running them could provide solutions to other important issues, such as providing visually impaired people with better opportunities to navigate their surroundings.
At least that’s what Swiss startup Biped put forward at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, unveiling a smart harness that uses autonomous driving technology to help sight-impaired avoid collisions while walking.
The wearable technology is called Biped.ai and it employs in-built 3D cameras that can be paired with headphones to warn users about the position of objects in their immediate surroundings.
“The vest sits on the shoulders, and thanks to its 3D cameras, can detect and predict the trajectories of all surrounding elements, a few seconds in advance, just like an autonomous vehicle,” Biped cofounder Mael Fabien told Dezeen. “It generates 3D audio feedback to warn the users about the position of the important elements around them,” he continued.
As reported by Dezeen, the software for the harness draws on the technology used in self-driving vehicles. The role of the 3D cameras is to identify, track, and monitor the movement of objects in a 170-degree field of view around the wearer. The device can predict the trajectory of an obstacle a few seconds in advance, helping the wearer avoid collisions. Using high-grade infrared cameras, Biped.ai also works at night and in dark locations.
The device will be available to consumers in Europe by the end of 2022. The harness will come in two sizes, namely small and large, which will work for anyone taller than 1.5 meters.